The Italian National Fire Corps (Vigili del Fuoco), part of the Ministry of the Interior, took delivery of the first two Leonardo AW139 helicopters.
The event, celebrated during an official ceremony held at Leonardo’s Vergiate facility on April 18 in the presence of Government representatives and local authorities. The introduction of the AW139 marks a major enhancement of airborne multirole capabilities with the world’s most modern helicopter for maritime and mountain Search and Rescue (SAR), medical rescue, firefighting and disaster relief duties.
Over 816,000 rescues and sorties are performed every year countering fires across Europe, including many in Italy, and the AW139s, planned to progressively replace the Italian National Fire Corps AB412s which have been in service for decades, will guarantee optimimal coverage and an even more rapid responsiveness across the country.
The Italian National Fire Corps will receive a third AW139 this year under the €45 million contract signed in 2018. The contract also includes integrated logistic support and training for pilots and technicians, and encompasses an option for 12 additional helicopters. The first two helicopters will be based in Rome Ciampino for National Fire Corpos personnel training.
The backbone of the Country’s rescue services, the AW139 is also in service with the Italy’s Guardia di Finanza, State Police, Coast Guard and Air Force.
The National Fire Corps AW139s feature a wide range of mission equipment, including an external rescue hoist, cargo hook with bambi bucket provision, weather radar, multi-band and satellite communication systems, high definition Forward Looking Infra-Red / Low Light TV (FLIR/LLTV) system, Leonardo’s high definition mission console with digital recorder, high definition down link, Leonardo’s Optical Proximity LiDAR System (OPLS), Night Vision Goggle (NVG) capability, new generation Trakka searchlight, emergency floatation system and external life rafts, external loudspeaker, medical rack and bubble windows.